Archive for the ‘Haskell Institute’ Category

Yet Another Eagle Feather

July 9, 2016

Dennis Hildebrand 1924

After the dissolution of the Oorang Indians NFL team after the 1923 season, Eagle Feather’s name next appeared with Jim Thorpe’s in a December 18, 1927 article in The Sunday Repository out of Canton, Ohio.  This Eagle Feather was playing on Jim Thorpe’s World Famous Indians basketball team. The article discussed an upcoming game with the local Orphans team that consisted of former college and high school stars. Something different about this article was that it gave two names for the WFI players. Jim Thorpe was Bright Path, Nick Lassaw was Long Time Sleep, and Dennis Hildebrand was Eagle Feather. Could Dennis Hildebrand be the same Eagle Feather who played football with Thorpe on the Oorang Indians NFL team?

Since The Sunday Repository piece listed Hildebrand/Eagle Feather as having attended Haskell Institute, that institution would be a likely place to look for him.  The World-Herald of January 12, 1924 featured a photo of the Haskell basketball team. Dennis Hildebrand was one of the eight Haskell players dressed in the school’s basketball uniforms in the photo. Another was the famous football star John Levi, who played center on the basketball team. Articles written while Eagle Feather played for the Thorpe’s WFI said he was captain of the 1925 Haskell hoops squad and was a North Carolina Cherokee native of Oklahoma. (The 1905 census listed him as having been born in Oklahoma but living on a Navajo reservation in Arizona.) The December 21, 1927 edition of The Canton Daily News claimed that Hildebrand had attended Indiana University not Haskell. The Daily News was clearly wrong about him not attending Haskell because his playing on that team is clearly documented. But did he also play for IU at some point? Finding out if he did or not is my next task.

*** UPDATE ***

Mary Mellon of the Indiana University Archives responded to my inquiry about Dennis Hildebrand:

I’ve checked into your question about Dennis Hildebrand. The IU registrar’s office has no record of him attending IU, which would have been a requirement to play for the basketball team. There’s also a handy online IU basketball database: http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/college/indiana/2013/10/29/indiana-basketball-mens-database/3308409/

Although it covers the years Hildebrand might have played college basketball, neither version of his name appears.

 

 

Important Info About Eagle Feather, Maybe

June 3, 2016

Eagle Feather Carlisle fullback 19221011

When my Eagle Feather research returned me to 1922, the Oorang Indians’ first year of operation, I took a second (or third) look at some newspaper articles I had previously collected. I was forced to search for an early article I for which had neglected to capture the date of and publication name. Mercifully, the easily recognizable article popped up early with the graphic at the top of the page. Rereading “Former Bulldogs Now Important Cogs In Jim Thorpe’s All-Indian Football Machine” brought me back to “Thorpe has unearthed a brilliant fullback in Eagle Feather, from Carlisle.” No new information there, I thought, “At least I know where this came from now.” My eye wandered to a piece immediately below the one I had sought, finding something I’d previously overlooked.

“Most Of Jim’s Indians Are Carlisle And Haskell Men” grabbed my attention. Perusing the piece unveiled “Eagle Feather, fullback who weighs 230 stripped, is a cousin to Bemus Pearce [sic], famous as a tackle in the old Carlisle days. This could lead us to who Eagle Feather really was or it could have been wrong as are so many things in newspapers.

Since we have so little else to go on, let’s assume it is correct. Let’s accept that Eagle Feather was a cousin of Bemus Pierce and that he attended Carlisle. To make our lives as easy as possible, let’s assume (for now) that his last name was Pierce and research Carlisle and tribal records for a person from that family who would have been between 18 and 25 in 1922, based on his youthful appearance in the Oorang photo. I’d also scan Carlisle football files and photographs for a player weighing over 200 pounds (he might have put on a few after Carlisle closed in 1918).

If we come up dry, we’ll have to do some genealogy work to identify Bemus Pierce’s cousins who might fit the criteria. This research will likely require considerable assistance from the tribal librarian. It’s not exactly looking for a needle in a haystack but only by an order of magnitude or two.

Eagle Feather Bemus Pierce cousin 19221011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haskell Football Slashed Again

May 24, 2015
Haskell Fightin' Indians

Haskell Fightin’ Indians

Football statistician Tex Noel informs me that Haskell has canceled football for the upcoming season due to finances and provided this link for more detail:  http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2015/may/21/haskell-suspends-football-program-2015-season/

Financial problems are nothing new for the Haskell Indian Nations University’s Fighting Indians. In the Great Depression, when the school was called Haskell Institute, the federal government slashed their funding in half at a time when their program was flourishing. After Carlisle was closed by the government in 1918, the mantle of Indian athletic excellence was passed to Haskell Institute. For the decade starting with the end of WWI, Haskell had no losing seasons, peaking with a 12-0-1 season in 1926. That team’s only blemish was a 21-21 tie with Boston College in a game played in Boston. Wins included victories over Bucknell, Dayton, Loyola, Michigan State, Xavier, and Tulsa in games played largely on the road as had Carlisle.

Haskell’s success led to its coach, Lone Star Dietz’s protégé from Washington State Richard Hanley, leaving for a better job at Northwestern, where he also did well before changing to a more lucrative position in the insurance industry. Barely breaking .500 for the 1927 and ’28 seasons led to the school recruiting a new coach. A decade after his sensational trial, Lone Star Dietz was hired as the new head coach—with recommendations from Pop Warner and Knute Rockne. The Lawrence Daily Journal-World reported, “And when Lone Star assumes his duties tomorrow he will reward the efforts of athletic officials and administrative heads at Haskell who for several years have tried to secure a widely known coach with Indian blood.” He was dubbed “Miracle Man” after leading the 1929 team to a 9-2 season.

But his and their success was not to last. The coaching budget for 1933 was slashed in half by government fiat. Haskell’s storied football trail of glory ended with Dietz’s departure to coach the Boston NFL team, setting up another story still in the news today.

College Football and All America Review

May 28, 2014

The most recent edition of the College Football Historical Society Newsletter included a historical book review of Christy Walsh’s 1949 College Football and All America Review. What caught my eye most were two things the book included: “the score of every game [ever] played” and “listing of lettermen, by year, from each school.” Determining exactly who played on the Carlisle and Haskell teams is a difficult, if not impossible, project due to the records retained for those teams. So, I searched for a copy of the book and found one at Allegheny College through interlibrary loan. Eventually the sought-after book arrived.

I flipped through the pages of the book searching for the Carlisle lettermen and found none. I repeated the process for Haskell and was disappointed again. Perhaps because neither school was competing at the college level at that time, their records were omitted. Or, it may have been too hard to gather up the information from the available data sources. Regardless, I came up dry. But I did stumble across some things of interest.

The book was dedicated to Pop Warner “with affectionate esteem” and Warner wrote a one-page article, “Flash-back to Carlisle” in which he reminisced about his years with the Indians. His list of highlights included:

  • Numerous victories over the University of Pennsylvania
  • Defeat of Harvard 18 to 15 in 1911 against Walter Camp All Americans as Percy Wendy, Sam Felton and Bob Fisher, the game in which Jim Thorpe kicked three goals from the field
  • The 27 to 6 trouncing the red-skinned youngsters gave to West Point in 1912, when the Cadets boasted players like Arnold, Littlejohn, Hyatt and Devore
  • I happily recall the truly great Indian squad of 1913 which handily swamped undefeated Dartmouth by a score of 35 to 0
  • Perhaps no Carlisle victory was more important or satisfying than the historic post-season game of 1907 when Chicago, coached by that grand old man Amos Alonzo Stagg and quarterbacked by Wally Steffen, another Walter Camp All American, was soundly defeated by the Indians, after the Conference champions had won the Big 10 title in an undefeated season.

Not listed were the 1905 Carlisle victory over West Point during a season Warner wasn’t at Carlisle and the 1907 defeat of Harvard, possibly because Warner felt the defeat of Chicago overshadowed it.

 

Lone Star Dietz Designed Redskins’ Uniforms

January 8, 2014

A little bit of research made crystal clear that The Boston Globe writer hadn’t bothered to research the 1932-1933 Braves-Redskins uniform issue at all when he wrote, “It appears the name change was nothing other than a cheap, pragmatic way for the Redskins to play under a new name at a new venue with uniforms that were but a year old.”

The Boston Herald coverage for the 1933 Redskins first home game announced, “Furthermore, they have a new coach, Lone Star Dietz; have new uniforms and some new players.” Grainy black and white period newspaper photos don’t show off the new uniforms very well, so football trading cards will have to suffice. Turk Edwards’ card shows the front pretty well where Cliff Battles gives a side view. The colors are similar to those of Carlisle Indian School, which were red and old gold. A multi-color Indian head adorns the front of the jersey and stripes are placed at the wrists. (Carlisle’s stripes were just below the elbow.) Now that we know what the Redskins wore in 1933 and later, let’s find out what the Braves wore in 1932.

The September 19, 1932 edition of The Boston Herald reported that the Braves didn’t look like a well-polished professional team when they easily defeated the Quincy Trojans in a practice game at Fore River Field on September 18, 1932. One reason was the long off-season lay-off. The other was sartorial. Because their new uniforms hadn’t arrived, they wore plain blue jerseys without numbers. Fortunately, their dark blue jerseys with gold numerals arrived before their first home game. Although the black and white photos that accompany the article aren’t in color, they clearly show numerals on the front of the 1932 jerseys in the place where the Indian heads appear in 1933. This is further evidence, again easily found, that George Preston Marshall didn’t select Redskins for the team name as an economy move.

This uniform information brought to mind something that came up when researching Lone Star Dietz’s life. A Lafayette, Louisiana attorney I interviewed had represented the One Star family pro bono some years earlier in an attempt to receive compensation from a previous owner for the artwork Dietz created for the team in 1933. The statute of limitations had expired decades earlier so the family got nothing. Unable to find physical evidence that Dietz had designed the uniforms, such as sketches he had made, I didn’t include the topic in his biography. Now, I think it’s quite likely that Lone Star designed the 1933 Redskins uniforms. The team name changed months after he was hired. The Redskins’ new colors were similar to Carlisle’s. Dietz clearly had the artistic ability to design the Indian head for the jerseys. He had a long history of making art for teams and schools and participating in artistic endeavors seldom done by football coaches. And it wouldn’t have cost Marshall anything.

1932 Boston Braves

1932 Boston Braves

Cliff Battles chicklet Turk Edwards national chicle card

Lone Star Dietz Dissed Again, This Time by The Boston Globe

January 1, 2014

***Update January 14, 2014*** Joseph Sullivan, Assistant Managing Editor and Sports Editor for The Boston Globe, responded to my request that The Globe correct at least some of the numerous errors in its December 29, 2013 article, writing, “None of your points warrant a correction. It’s time to move on.”  This is further evidence of why newspapers, such as The Boston Globe, are in such sad shape today.

Ninety-eight years ago today, Lone Star Dietz was toasted by football fans across the country after defeating Brown University on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. This great victory in an historic game not only established the Rose Bowl and all the others that followed but put long inferior West Coast football on an even footing with the East Coast powers. In recent years, media activists bent on changing the Redskins’ name have found it convenient to assassinate Dietz’s character. Many thought Lone Star’s long awaited and much deserved 2012 induction into the College Football Hall of Fame would end this disrespectful treatment.
Instead, their hatred appears to have intensified based on the scurrilous opinion piece—the article is so riddled with errors and half truths it can’t be considered news—by The Boston Globe staff writer Kevin Paul Dupont for the December 29 edition.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/12/29/redskins-wonder-what-name-the-answer-traces-back-boston/GmfYbPTnHx1Ht5NgqN1EOM/story.html
To some extent, Lone Star is collateral damage because George Preston Marshall is activists’ primary target. However, they apparently think it’s necessary to smear Dietz in order to get Marshall. Their strategy has been, and still is, to destroy Marshall’s claim that the team was named in honor of its coach and (four) players who followed Dietz from the government Indian school at Lawrence, Kansas to Beantown. Simply put: assassinate Dietz’s character, eliminate Marshall’s premise, and forget the Indian players.
Much of this latest smear takes a different tack from earlier ones by posing the point that it was less expensive for Marshall to change the team’s moniker to Redskins than to some other non-Indian-related name. Central to Dupont’s argument is a point he made no less than four times in that piece: Marshall was sitting on a pile of perfectly good uniforms and saved a bundle by continuing to use them. The major problem with this, apparently unresearched, argument is that Marshall bought a whole new set of jerseys for his 1933 team!

<to be continued>

Paul Laroque 1907

December 27, 2013

I neglected to mention that Paul LaRoque played hurt in the last game of the 1905 season against Georgetown. He started the game with a broken rib but probably didn’t play long in this 76-0 blow out. So, diseased or injured, he probably completed the 1906 season on the field for the Indians. His grandson informed me that, instead of sitting quietly at home, he played for the “North Dakota Bison” in 1907. That prompted me to do a little more research.
I quickly found newspaper clippings of a couple of North Dakota Agricultural College (today’s North Dakota State) games in which LaRoque was on the line—right tackle against South Dakota and right end against Haskell Institute. “Gloomy” Gil Dobie coached the North Dakota Aggies (as they were generally called) in 1906 and 1907 contrary to what Wikipedia states. One would think NDSU fans would want to see Dobie mentioned as one of their successful coaches. However, CFBDATAWAREHOUSE.com has that right. That site lists the Aggies having played only three games that year. They likely played more but I haven’t found them. One wonders if playing for “The Apostle of Grief” convinced Paul to return to Carlisle or if the announcement of Warner’s return swayed him or if that was his plan all along. We’ll probably never know for sure.
Something that readers may find confusing is that LaRoque played on the line but was mentioned in newspaper reports as having made good gains carrying the ball. In those days, linemen were sometimes positioned in the backfield and also were handed the ball on criss-cross plays. It was a much different game then, particularly before teams adapted to the 1906 rule changes.

Redskins Named in Dietz’s Honor

May 6, 2013

Professor Joseph Gordon Hylton posed some opinions and asked a question with regard to the naming of the Redskins NFL team yesterday. He stated that George Preston Marshall, owner of the Boston NFL franchise, had a life-long fascination with Indians. That is believable because another NFL owner, Walter Lingo, believed there existed a mystical connection between Indians and the Airedales he raised and sold. His team was formed a decade before Marshall’s and was named the Oorang Indians. Now to Dr. Hylton’s question:

“Has anyone pinpointed the day that the name change was announced?”

I previously located letterhead for the Boston Braves that listed Lone Star Dietz as the head coach (see p. 278 of Keep A-goin’: the life of Lone Star Dietz) but hadn’t tried to pinpoint the exact date of the name change. A little research turned up the date Dietz was named head coach in a March 8, 1933 issue of The Boston Herald. The team was referred to as the Redskins on the sports page by the end of August, so it had to renamed before that. A little more research located the announcement of the team’s name change. The July 6, 1933 issue of The Boston Herald included a short article titled Braves Pro Gridmen to be Called Redskins (see below). This article establishes the fact that the Redskins were renamed well after Dietz’s hiring and includes the team’s published reason, “…the change was made to avoid confusion with the Braves baseball team and that the team is to be coached by an Indian, Lone Star Dietz, with several Indian players.”

This article supports the contention made by George Preston Marshall’s granddaughter several decades later.

1933-07-06 Redskins renamed

Guiding The White Brethren

October 26, 2012

The electronic version of the Fall 2012 edition of the magazine for the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is finally out. My article on Carlisle Indians who went on to coach other teams is on page 46 (page 44 of print version). The idea for this article came to me after attending Lone Star Dietz’s enshrinement ceremony into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the only Carlisle Indian to be inducted as a coach. Six others, some of whom also coached, were enshrined previously but as players. It is unlikely that any others will receive this honor because no other Carlisle Indian coached as long or with nearly as much success as Dietz.

American Indian athletic prowess is getting much attention this year due to 2012 being the 100th anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s extraordinary triumphs in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Games. Anyone unfamiliar with Native Americans’ success in the Olympics can read my several previous blog entries on this topic.

Worthy of note is that Dietz and the others had great success coaching white college and professional players. Many of them, including Dietz, coached Indian teams at one time or another but the vast majority of their coaching careers were with white college teams. Having played with Carlisle and knowing the Warner System gave these men instant credibility and opened doors for them. After going through those doors, success or the lack of it was the deciding factor. After all, sports have always been a meritocracy. Performance matters above all. Carlisle players succeeded on the field both as players and coaches. The graduate system of coaching that was tried in the early 20th century limited coaching opportunities for those who hadn’t attended major colleges but numerous smaller schools welcomed Carlisle Indians to lead their teams. Although far from an ideal situation, these men were given the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merits and they largely succeeded.

http://content.yudu.com/A1yt4b/fall2012/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanindianmagazine.org%2Fabout-us

Line Ups for 1904 Carlisle-Haskell Game

June 20, 2012

Tex Noel recently sent me a link to a list of numerous books, programs and other football memorabilia that have been digitized and are available on-line. Included in the list was the program for the 1904 Carlisle-Haskell game which was held at the St. Louis World’s Fair, in part, for the entertainment of President Roosevelt who visited the fair but did not attend the game.

Page 3 of the program contains the proposed line ups for the two teams. At first glance, the Haskell line up looked similar to the one Steckbeck included in Fabulous Redmen,but the Carlisle line up was significantly different:

Program            Steckbeck

Jude           LE   Rogers

Bowen        LT   Bowen, Gardner

Dillen         LG   Dillon

Kennedy     C     Shouchuk

White          RG  White

Exendine    RT  Exendine

Flores          RE  Tomahawk

Libby           QB  Libby

Hendricks  RH  B. Pierce, Hendricks

Shelden        LH   Sheldon, Lubo

Lube           FB   H. Pierce

Jude, Kennedy and Flores didn’t get in the game. Coaches Ed Rogers and Bemus Pierce suited up for the game.  Hawley Pierce and long-time player Nikifer Shouchuk also played. The reason given for loading up the line up was that rumors swirled around that Haskell was even recruiting white ringers for the big game. That doesn’t seem to have happened. What did happen was that some of the best players ever to play at Carlisle could be found on both sides of the ball. Some, like Archiquette had previously played for Carlisle but were at Haskell in 1904 (and would return to Carlisle in 1905). Others like Charles Guyon (Wahoo), Pete Hauser and Emil Hauser (Wauseka), would star at Carlisle in the years that followed. The two line ups amounted to a who’s who in Indian football at that time.